Where to start?
Many students at colleges across the country struggle with the question of how to make money while at school. For some students, it’s the difference between attending school and not. For others, it’s a matter of making some extra spending money.
Either way, searching for a job at any stage of life can be frustrating, but when you’re a college student during these tough economic times in Michigan, it can seem like an almost unattainable goal.
Assistant Director of Career Services Steven LaFond said he felt the first step for an NMU student seeking a job is to go to the career services Web site, found at www.nmu.edu/careers. There, a student or prospective student can find all the on-campus and off-campus job postings in Marquette.
“I always recommend checking the Web site lists on a frequent, if not a daily, basis,” LaFond said. “The reason I mention ‘daily’ is that the best job openings, those that pay very well or those that are with desirable employers, do not last long on our Web site; some of them are filled within 24 hours of posting them.”
The Web site offers advice on resumes and interview preparation and offers a list of job postings. Any student or prospective student can apply for open positions over the summer. They don’t have to wait until fall to apply, LaFond said.
Another option for students to find work is the job fairs Career Services hold on-campus.
“Employers that attend these events each year recruit for permanent positions, but they also recruit for part-time and summer positions, as well as internships,” LaFond said. “Get in the habit early on and attend these events during the year, just to see what types of openings are available and network with the employers.”
On campus or off-campus?
The first question many students might ask themselves when considering applying for a job is whether it is better to work on-campus or off-campus.
Junior Mandy Cowell, who worked at the Wildcat Den during the winter ’09 semester and currently works at Subway, said she feels it is better to work on-campus.
“Working on-campus is just more convenient,” said Cowell.
LaFond said the question of on-campus jobs versus off-campus jobs depends on what the student is looking for.
“There are advantages to both types of positions. It has been my experience that on-campus employers are more willing to work around a student’s schedule, especially during school breaks, than off-campus employers,” LaFond said. “On the other hand I think off-campus positions offer more variety in terms of pay ranges, and there are usually more openings.”
NMU student Austin Beattie, a supervisor at the NMU Call Center, which employs only students, said he felt on-campus jobs were more beneficial.
“Depends on where you live, really. I lived in the dorms last year, and it was great to walk to the Call Center,” said Beattie. “Northern seems to take care of its student workers pretty well.”
Students might also ask themselves what employers look for in a potential employee. Stephanie Fadness, another supervisor at the Call Center, and Beattie both said they look for a variety of different things in an employee.
“We look for good communication skills, someone who is reliable, eager to learn, and able to foster good relations about the university,” said Beattie. “Mainly just being able to speak well, someone who is good with language and knows how to communicate.”
Preparing for an interview
Another question that may plague students hoping to become employed is how to best prepare for an interview. Cowell said the key to securing a job during an interview is being self-assured.
“Come up with answers to questions interviewers might ask so you look confident,” said Cowell. “Don’t be nervous, either.”
Lafond said that it is always best to research the prospective employer before the interview, since all major employers have a Web site.
“Check them out online and see what the business is all about,” Lafond said. “You could learn how long they’ve been in business, locations, products, latest news, etcetera. You might also Google them and see what kind of information you can find out about the employer. Last but not least, be on time. It is never a good idea to be late for a first interview.”
Beattie also said he thought it was important to dress appropriately for an interview. He said business casual attire was best.
Business casual attire means no tennis shoes, no blue jeans or cargo pants. Fadness said a positive attitude and eagerness was very important as well.
Josh Withert, who works in human resources at Menards, said that it is always important to make a good first impression.
“I get a lot of people who, even when they pick up an application, look like they just got out of bed or something,” Withert said. “If you talk to someone there, that always helps. Then they can remember the face with the name.”
Withert also said that Menards looks for people with intentions to work there long-term, rather than just short-term over the summer. Withert said Menards employed about 40 to 50 Northern students.
LaFond said students are welcome to stop in the Career Services office any time, or email them at [email protected]